Easing Kids Back to School: Singapore Reopens to Normalcy
Parents, here are tips on how you can better support your child.
This term of back-to-school after the lockdown may have different reactions from children. After staying home for long, some of them may be eager to join their peers. But many kids may be too stressed about restarting the routine life again. On the transition back to school after COVID-19, Singapore must have the best safety measures in place to reassure parents and students June 2nd onwards. At home, parents can help kids transition efficiently into their school-going schedule.
Why is back-to-school unsettling?
On the transition back to school after COVID-19, Singapore is displacing its usual June vacations. This comes after a forced vacation due to circuit breaker period. Also, this lockdown has given Singapore the longest school break in a long time. Thus, the kids have settled to a stay-in regime that may be difficult to shake off.
The new normal for them has been to hang around in the house, visiting near-empty lanes armed with masks and sanitisers and avoiding favourite hangouts and parks. They will need time to unlearn this de-socialisation and inactivity.
These conditions come on top of the usual back-to-school worries that kids have after a long break. The young kids have fears about being teased, feeling isolated or about teachers and exams. The older kids and teens, on the other hand, feel qualms about mental health, study issues, peer pressure and stress.
Transition back to school after COVID-19: Singapore braces itself
The Ministry of Education, Singapore, has announced specific measures the schools must take when they reopen.
- Secondary 4 and 5, and Primary 6 graduating cohorts will attend schools on weekdays.
- Weekly rotation between classroom teaching and online teaching for other cohorts.
- Assumption Pathway School, North Light School and preschools will stagger their reopening over a period of 7 days.
- Safety measures of handwashing, social distancing, face masks and shields must continue for students and teachers.
- Cleaning, staggering and social distancing to continue in common areas and canteens.
- Distanced seating in classrooms.
- Safe and separate entry and exits, and strict temperature/health checks.
- Staggered entry/exit and staggered timings wherever applicable.
- Suspension of cross-class activities and cross-deployment of staff.
All these new rules and systems are likely to cause anxiety among children, particularly the very young. Since, this is the age for the very young to learn basics of socialising, these new steps may have a psychological impact. It will be the responsibility of parents and teachers to help them cope with the guidelines, constructively.
Supporting kids back to school
This transition from prolonged stay-at-home to new school regimen, with new do’s and don’ts, is likely to cause apprehension. Here are some things you need to do to help your children settle down comfortably.
Acknowledge their worries and uneasiness
Your child might be worried about the new instructions. They may feel insecure about friends and teachers. They may even worry about getting sick. Accept their concerns. Assure them that they are not alone in this experience. Tell them it is normal to get worried but together you will brave it.
Get them into the groove
Set morning time routine. Keep your plan close to the school-going schedule. Ease children into these newly put habits gradually. Starting this back-to-school regimen as soon as possible will get them into the groove. Keep the instructions clear, basic and simple. Well-defined, easy steps will take away resistance as well as anxiety. You may consider rewarding every successful implementation of the rules. Be strict about morning and bedtime practice. Set time limits for night-time activities to ensure adequate sleep.
Change the focus to a sense of belonging to the school
Talk about school. Help them network with school peers. Provide support around schoolwork and technology usage. Reassure them about your care. Show interest in school activities and academic requirements to develop a positive attitude towards school.
Provide a structured schedule to assist the completion of work
Kids feel secure under structured rules that they can fit into. Guarantee a supportive atmosphere for work completion. Homework is a major cause of stress for most school-going children. Keep the motivation levels high with positive feedbacks and encouragements. Simultaneously, keep their energy levels high with timely nutritious snacks.
Pay attention to indications of stress
The very young cannot communicate their anxiety verbally. Look for non-verbal cues such as thumb-sucking, bed-wetting, clinginess or restlessness. For older kids, negotiations to avoid activities or too many ‘what-ifs’ may be a sign of anxiety. Teenagers find it even more difficult to openly accept worry. Watch out for anger, withdrawal, headaches or uneasy restlessness. You may need to reach out to them.
Encourage open talk and queries.
Some schools may provide transition information. If they do not, contact the school to get the same. Share with the children whatever communication you have received from the school. Let them ask their questions. Help them clear any doubts. Again, assure them of your support. Let them know that you are open to all discussions.
Finally, restrain your anxiety
Keep your own worries under control. Our anxiety gets easily transmitted to our kids. Even if they do not always comprehend the source of the unease, they can intercept the vibes. A relaxed parent will have self-assured kids. Help your kids become emotionally adaptable and resilient. That is the best coping advice you can give them.
Teachers are there to help too
Don’t forget teachers are available at the other end to meet your kids’ back-to-school modus operandi half-way. They are preparing themselves to do the best for your child. Most of the teachers have gone through counselling and discussion sessions to chalk out the ideal plan for the restart of schools under changed guidelines. A welcoming and secure environment inside the school will soon help kids settle to the new programme.
With the right kind of support, commendation and trust, kids can smoothly transition into this new, confusing phase.